The Bottom Line – Projects

Small Business Assistance for Rhode Island Avenue

Every year, Rhode Island Ave NE Main Street (RIAMS) selects promising local small businesses in the Rhode Island Ave corridor to receive technical support grants. Businesses and property owners looking to improve their operations and storefront, attract customers, and contribute to our community’s growth are invited to apply.

This program funds reasonable, strategic improvements for qualified, neighborhood-serving businesses and commercial properties located on Rhode Island Ave NE between 3rd St NE and Eastern Ave. To be selected, business owners are required to complete an intake form and one-on-one assessment process evaluating the business’ overall health and establishing a strategic plan for the funded project.

All projects require some level of cost sharing between RIAMS and the client business, to be determined based on the scope and cost of the project and client need. Once approved, business owners are expected to work directly with any consultants or vendors to complete the project within three months.

Read below for more details and next steps to get started. We look forward to working with you to grow your business and support a thriving Rhode Island Avenue!

How It Works

Small business technical assistance projects at RIA Main Street entail the following steps:

  1. Complete intake form
  2. Meet with small business advisor
  3. Review business assessment for funded project
  4. Complete project with approved consultant
  5. Share in your success!

1. Complete intake form
Complete the intake form to begin the process. The form itself will give you an idea of what you need to have in place before you begin the process. Be sure to complete the form in a single sitting to avoid losing any work.

2. Meet with small business advisor
Once your intake has been reviewed and approved, we will put you in touch with a small business advisor from our expert network. They will meet with all critical members of your team for a thorough discussion of the overall mission and health of your business.

3. Review business assessment for funded project
Your business advisor will develop an assessment report based on your meeting giving an overview of your business and addressing areas of strength and needed growth. This holistic view will inform the strategy for any projects to follow. The report will include specific recommended project scope(s) for your business, which you will review and discuss with the RIAMS team to establish a plan for completion.

4. Complete project with approved consultant
Most projects will be completed by a vetted, CBE-certified member of our preferred vendor network. Occasionally we will consider vendors recommended by the client business. You will work directly with the vendor to complete the project according to the scope. If the vendor requires a deposit, RIAMS expects the client to pay their portion first.

Projects typically take between 2-6 weeks depending on their scope. Business owners are expected to remain actively engaged with RIAMS and their assigned consultant vendor to keep the project on schedule. Significant delays may incur additional costs.

5. Share in your success!
Doing the work is just the first step. As you share your work with your team and community, we look forward to hearing about its impact on your business. RIAMS will tell your story to our Rhode Island Ave NE and larger DC and Ward 5 communities, providing further exposure for your business.

Get started HERE.

What is Funded?

Rhode Island Ave NE Main Street is committed to investing in the general business community and in specific businesses for long-term vitality of the RIA corridor. We look for business owners with a similar level of commitment and experience, who are making a difference in the community through small business. For initial business planning and basic start-up support, we may refer you to another provider who specializes in these services.

RIAMS funds projects that will propel a business forward and fall into one of the categories below:Marketing Plan StrategyBranding & DesignStorefront Facade ImprovementsBasic Website Design & ContentSocial Media Strategy & SupportAccounting & BookkeepingOperations ManagementLicensing & ComplianceOther projects may be considered on a case-by-case basis, but should be aimed at strategic growth and long-term impact on the vibrancy of the Rhode Island Ave NE corridor.

All projects require some level of cost sharing between RIAMS and the client business. RIAMS’s contribution should be considered a helpful support to amplify and strengthen the work you already plan as a business owner.

Grant funds may not be used for any of the following types of expenses:

  • Financing of existing debt
  • Invoices incurred prior to execution of the client’s assessment
  • Merchandise
  • Product inventory
  • Rent
  • Food, drink, or disposable materials for one-­time event use
  • Payroll
  • Day-­to-­day operational costs

Am I Eligible?

This program targets small retail and service-­oriented businesses located on the Rhode Island Ave NE corridor between 3rd St NE and Eastern Ave. Applicants must be able to demonstrate a connection to a property in the corridor.

The following entities are not eligible for technical assistance grants:
Businesses in the following industries:

  • Adult entertainment Nightclubs
  • Liquor stores*
  • Nonprofits (See our Resources page for a referral to alternate providers.)
    Any entity with a primarily political or religious focus

*Unless substantial business operation improvements are planned, ie. discontinuing single-beverage sales, etc. Eligibility will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

What do I do next?

Complete the intake form about your business and needs. Once submitted, we will contact you to determine the appropriate next steps.

Get started HERE